Food prices: biofuels to blame?

I’ve seen a lot of references to the impact of increased biofuel production on the price of food recently. It seems to be accepted that they are one of the major causes of the incredible rises we have recently seen; rises that have almost doubled the price of bread in the supermarkets. But I question whether it really has been the growing of biofuels behind this increase.

For all the references to biofuels in articles about rising food prices, I have been able to find no data on how much farmland has already been turned over to their production. Given their lack of commercial availability, I struggle to believe they are yet being produced in any great quantity. My understanding is that they are largely still at the trial stage, except in countries like Brazil where Ethanol-based fuels have long been on the market. In most ofther countries they are at best a small-percentage additive to existing fuels.

It would be incredible if a few trials are having anything like the effect on prices that has been caused by increased demand from India and China, droughts in Ukraine and poor harvests elsewhere. Perhaps the incredible lobbying power of the oil companies is at work again…

This post forms part of my Future of Cities series. For more posts on this subject, visit the Future of Cities page.

Tom Cheesewright

Futurist speaker Tom Cheesewright is one of the UK's leading commentators on technology and tomorrow. Tom has worked with a huge range of organisations across a variety of markets, to help them to see a clear vision of tomorrow, share that vision and respond with agility. Tom draws on his experience to create original, compelling talks that are keyed to the experience of the audience but which surprise and shock with unexpected facts and examples.

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Tom Cheesewright